The country's second telecommunications operator du has formed partnerships with Arab media companies including Rotana, MBC and GETMO Arabia.
Arab partnerships for du site
The country's second telecommunications operator du has formed partnerships with Arab media companies including Rotana, MBC and GETMO Arabia to provide content on its new digital media platform anayou.
The site - its name consisting of the words "ana" ("me" in Arabic) and the English "you" - will offer users film content from the Saudi-owned media company Rotana, material from the satellite TV operator MBC and online music from GETMO Arabia.
"We have a full series of content partners. It's not only content, we also have media partners and application partners," said Osman Sultan, the chief executive of du, during the GITEX technology conference that opened in Dubai yesterday.
"We have agreements with Rotana as far as the music and film [content]. We have a very clear discussion with MBC."
Other media and technology providers include Eurosport, Accenture, Funambo, Hungama and the gaming company F4, the company said. Ammar Bakkar, the group director of new media at MBC Group, said the partnership with du for anayou was part of a "long-term deal".
"MBC has a huge content catalogue and it will be a continuing process of co-ordination as to what content is used over the du network," said Mr Bakkar.
"MBC usually ranges from drama to lifestyle to music … All types of content are open to this process." The issue of how the content was monetised would be "a question for du", he said.
GETMO Arabia, a joint venture between Bertelsmann and the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), will initially provide online music through the anayou site. ADMC also owns and publishes The National.
"We'll be offering a full range of services from the GETMO site to anayou users. It will be rolled out in phases according to the initial feedback," said Scott Weeman, the general manager of GETMO Arabia.
"The focus initially will be on the online music," he added, saying GETMO offered "a mix of international and local music". Mobile and gaming content could follow, said Mr Weeman, who added users would be billed for content by GETMO.
"Effectively, the users will be coming and doing transactions through the GETMO portal," he said. The development of anayou marks du's attempt to build a "digital destination" to rival the likes of Facebook and YouTube. "We're not saying we're replacing them but we want to become part of them," said Mr Sultan. "We want to be number one."
A beta version of the site, which is in Arabic, English and French, was launched on October 10. It promises applications, games, access to social networks, entertainment, sports, mobile games, phone call capabilities and 2 gigabytes of storage space on the web. Mr Sultan described the site as an "Arabian-made product available across three screens - mobile, web and soon on the TV".
Aside from social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, du faces competition from players such as Yahoo, which last year acquired the Middle East portal Maktoob for US$164 million (Dh602.3m). According to the website data provider Alexa, Maktoob is the sixth most-popular website in Saudi Arabia, behind Facebook (in fifth place) and YouTube (in second).
Last month, it emerged Yahoo Middle East had struck a deal with Al Jazeera to publish the Qatar-based TV channel's broadcasts on its site. Earlier this year, it struck a similar deal with Rotana.